An aesthete’s appreciation for natural beauty might latch onto any one of several facets: nature’s sublime scale, its intensity, its persistence, or even its constant, inherent danger. While any of these are awesome on their own, nothing seems so mystifying as the natural world’s capacity for infinite variation — the divots of a canyon, the precise hues of a river, the cricks in the trunk of a tree — each may appear in any one of innumerable combinations, formed by forces impossible to trace with total precision. For instance, we may decipher that a specific river carved a particular valley, but the actual minutes once required for the trough to appear in the water’s wake are utterly impossible to reconstruct. There will never be an absolute ontological answer for why a stone took its certain shape, a slope its angle. Nature’s unimpeachable forms have appeared without any regard for their human audience, for our obsession with history and origin, and it’s hard not to be impressed by the upshot of variety.
The video premiered here, for “Rose” by Japanese duo IKEBANA, is a prime example of the way in which man-made digital media has proliferated to such extremes that it seems to have matched the scope and span of the natural world. It’s now readily expected that one will discover and watch a video on the internet while maintaining no conception of who is responsible for its sounds and images — all that is evident is that the video exists and that it has been curated for your delectation. Just as one doesn’t wonder who “invented” a rose that one sees in a garden, we also don’t presume to wonder who filmed the kaleidoscope, or the flicking hands, or the swaying submerged feet you see on your screen in this video. The vast “variety of the digital” is one of the unsettling beauties of the internet. You passively affirm what you’re seeing is existent and think, “Yes, I accept that there’s footage like this.” Logic is moot. Natural infinity rules. For better or for worse, it seems superfluous to ask “Who? Why?”
Of course, in this case, there’s a ready answer: the video for “Rose” was created by Texan two-piece Twigs and Yarn. And their treatment of the music is inspired — “ikebana” is actually a Japanese term for an art of flower arrangement. Just as flowers may come in any minute variation in the bounds of nature, this video intimates a universe where any electronic image pre-exists in its dewey vapor, ready to be plucked and arranged, then viewed for your pleasure, as you pass on your digital stroll.
IKEBANA’s album When you Arrive There will be released on July 8, from the Tokyo label Flau.